MMIW/MMIP - Statement by AISF
Mission of Alianza Indigena sin Fronteras/Indigenous Alliance Without Borders:
Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras (AISF) affirms the rights of Indigenous peoples, their right to self-determination, their collective human and civil rights, the rights of sovereignty and the protection of sacred sites and the natural world, and the free unrestricted movement across international borders.
Statement on National Day of Awareness for Missing
and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls #MMIWG:
In April of 2016, members of the United States Congress introduced a resolution to designate May 5th as a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in honor of the unsolved murder of Hanna Harris, a Northern Cheyenne mother. Harris told friends and family she was going to see a fireworks show to celebrate Independence Day (July 4, 2013) and was never seen alive again. Four days later, her body was found at the rodeo grounds in her home community. Harris’ body was so mutilated coroners could not determine a cause of death. Harris’ story is not uncommon in Indigenous communities around the world. Currently, U.S. border policies have resulted in layered violence -- historical and recent -- on Native lands, particularly now as many migrants perish in the desert.
Along the U.S.- Mexico border, countless Indigenous women and girls migrate or flee from Central and South America to the United States seeking independence from climate injustice, physical, systemic, and structural violence, femicide/feminicidio, and state sanctioned violence. Many perish during this perilous trek, turning up among the unidentified human remains along the migrant trails, and face rape and assaults on their journey to the United States. In a joint report by the AISF and the
International Mayan League to the United Nations, Indigenous Peoples’ Rights to Exist, Self Determination, Language and Due Process in Migration we documented that at least 20 percent of asylum seekers who enter the Tucson border region are Indigenous peoples and 30 percent constitute female-headed households. Numerous Indigenous females reported fleeing their communities due to physical violence, and feared being raped. Additionally, once here they are vulnerable to more violence, including sex trafficking. As noted by data provided by Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, many of the Indigenous single-mother immigrants who passed through the
shelter are headed to agriculturally-based areas of the country, which are often very rural and isolated, making access to support more difficult. Yet, most of these stories are erased from our collective memory.
Moreover, AISF understands the issue of MMIWG crosses international borders, state lines, reservation lands and impacts urban cities. According to an Urban Indian Health Institute 2019 study, Arizona ranked number three nationally in missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and Tucson ranked number four among U.S. cities, with 31 cases. The U.S.-Mexico border directly affects 17 tribal territories, (nine in Arizona: Tohono O’odham, Akimel O’odham, Pima and Gila River, Yoeme, Apache, Havasupai, Cocopah, and Quechan). Additionally, many of these Nations have relatives living in Mexico whose mistreatment goes largely undocumented. As thousands of Indigenous migrants seek asylum in the Tucson sector, the scope of potential violence against Indigenous women broadens. Of the identified human remains of migrants found in the Arizona borderlands, according to the Binational Migration Institute’s report documenting remains from 1990 to 2020, at least 15 percent have been female, and some reports are as high as 25 percent (Ramirez et al. 2021 an Rubio-Goldsmith et. al 2006).
Correspondingly, AISF recognizes this day not only represents the stories widely shared, but also the stories that have yet to be told, such as stories that are buried vis-a-vis state non-transparency, and that are extremely difficult to access from the immigration/internment camps of the United States. Presently, hundreds of Indigenous children have been separated from their families, and an untold number have been placed in homes in the United States and lost in the system. Forced separation of families harkens to forced removal of American Indian children from their families, from their mothers, grandmothers, aunties, and their familial kinship structures, into the U.S. child welfare system. We recognize the intricate connections between MMIWG and forced migration of Indigenous children and families to the US-Mexico border region, and that this aggressive displacement is intricately interwoven with capitalism and land grabs, state-sanctioned violence, anti-Indigenous racism, nefarious trade agreements and cartels. Forced sterilization of migrating women in detention facilities reminds Indigenous peoples of the forced sterilization of thousands of American Indian women and how Indigenous female bodies have been targeted in times of war, invasion and conquest. For, to contain the life bearers of a nation, is to contain peoplehood of the Original Peoples of this continent.
Furthermore, AISF recognizes that the term “missing and murdered” extends beyond the physical realm. Acts of violence such as rape, assault, torture, separation of children from their mothers and families, misognistic, unjust, and patriotriarchal laws and policies, and dehumanizing language contribute to an enervated light that Indigenous women and girls must carry. Sometimes those flames perish entirely and Indigenous communities are left with community members who survive as shells of themselves, which is a direct consequence of continuous violence against Indigenous women, wmxn, trans, and Two-Spirit folx that is normalized as a pre-condition for Americans' experiment in freedom and democracy. That is, being mere shells of our true human selves and highest potential is what American national narratives, stereotypes, tropes, and myths about the United States' history manifests as MMIWG, a process and condition of U.S. settler colonialism and of a citizenry that demand a level of toxic, extractive consumption, and that disavows our belonging on and in the land.
Finally, for AISF, the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls also includes the Indigenous Two Spirit/LGBTQ communities alongside fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, and sons because when one of our community members suffer, we all are forever affected. Indeed, today is a day we honor our communities and environments by advocating for the health, wellness, dignity, and respect of those with the ability to bear, nurture, and give life. In this way, we further pay our respects to Water. For many of our Indigenous relatives, Water is a woman, female, and Water Is Life.
AISF Statement on the epidemic of #MMIWG’s Intersectionality, and the need to bring awareness to #MMIP:
As the AISF, we recognize that the issue is not just #MMIW but the issue(s) affect Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (#MMIP). We recognize the systemic oppression of Indigenous peoples and how it affects all our relations. As the AISF, we recognize that MMIWG highlights the multiple ways extractivist capitalism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, anti-Indigenous racism, misogyny, violent occupation, seizure of Indigenous territories and stolen generations intersect and violate Indigenous women, girls, wmxn, Two Spirit, and trans folx. We recognize that the MMIWG movement created crucial spaces and platforms to support the victims' families. As the MMIWG movement raised awareness across settler borders, this created more safe spaces for Indigenous survivors of victims of violence to expand and build upon the MMIWG work, which now includes: MMIP (Missing and Murdered Indigenous People).
We ask that this day be a day of remembrance and change. We call for the respect of all women, children, elders and two spirit people. We demand the inalienable rights of these and Mother Earth to be restored and respected with the end of misogyny, capitalist greed, neoliberal strategies, and lack of understanding of our interconnectedness. We will continue to seek the missing and fight for justice. We will never forget those who have been murdered and those yet to be rescued.
Lucchesi, Annita and Abigail Echo-Hawk. Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Report. 2019. Urban Indian Health Institute. Seattle Indian Health Board.
Martinez, Daniel E., Robin C. Reineke, Geoffrey Boyce, Samuel N. Chambers, Bruce E. Anderson, Gregory L. Hess, Jennifer M. Vollner, Bruce O. Parks, Caitlin C.M. Vogelsberg, Gabriella Soto, Michael Kreyche, and Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith. 2021. “Migrant Deaths in Southern Arizona: Recovered Undocumented Border Crosser Remains Investigated by the Pima County Office of the Mexican Examiner, 1990-2020.” Report. Binational Migration Institute, University of Arizona.
Rubio-Goldsmith, Raquel, M. Melissa McCormick, Daniel Martinez, and Inez Magdalena Duarte. 2006. The “Funnel Effect” and Recovered Bodies of Unauthorized Migrants Processed by the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, 1990- 2005. Report of the Binational Migration Institute, Mexican American Studies and Research Center, University of Arizona. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona. http://
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Thank you to our 2019 Indigenous Peoples Day
"Indigenous Alliance Without Borders/Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras campaign to support Indigenous language interpretation and translation for Indigenous Migrants coming through the Southern Arizona borders"
The Indigenous Alliance Without Borders is organizing a campaign to support Indigenous language interpretation and translation for the hundreds of Indigenous migrants and visitors coming through the southern Arizona border as they seek to be united with sponsors or request asylum. We are requesting that supporters send gift cards of $25 or $50 from Target or Visa to the Indigenous Alliance, which will be delivered to Indigenous interpreters and translators in the region. Language translation and interpretation are needed for 22 languages in Guatemala, in particular Mam, Kanjobal, Quiche, and Ixil, and 62 languages from Mexico, in particular the Nahuatl and Mixtec languages. The United Nations has declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages. Please support our relatives’ rights to understand their rights in their own language. The gift cards should be mailed to the
Indigenous Alliance Without Borders
225 E. 26th Street, Suite #3
Tucson, AZ 85713
These ARE NOT tax deductible donations.